At the start of the year a family friend, considered an alternative granddad, passed away at a very respectable age. He’s known me since I was just a toddler and always been a close friend to the family. Last year saw him fall ill and in the New Year he passed away. In the following weeks my parents sorted through his possessions and presented me with a collection of his memories and keepsakes as a reminder.
The first box ironically contained school photographs of me through the years. Quite touching to see them amongst his personal possessions and photographs of his long passed family.
As I sorted through the two aged suitcases I began to see a side of his life I had never known. Aged in his nineties there were photographs from pre-War, during the war and times I would never know. Opening the suitcase and sifting through the pictures, newspaper clippings, discharge papers, wartime cards and notes was quite emotional.
It inspired me to honour my friend in the only way I personally can.
I thought of The Magdon story and how I have told my children I learned of my great grandfather Archy’s adventures by being given his old diary. What better way to personify that discovery than in a short trailer/scene. I would love to film it properly as a short scene using these things as props but I am getting way ahead of myself.
So I made my excuses and decided to make a trailer that could use the memories of my family friend and make them feel like Archy’s. It seemed right. It seemed like the sort of thing that fits with the way I deal with people and things.
There were, of course, some problems with that. I don’t want to glorify on his past, it is after all his. There was a lot of dressing the things within the suitcase so to the unknowing eye it was just a collection of props but for me and my family, as we watch, we will see the clues of the past and smile inside.
As I say, this fifty-odd second snippet would be my opening scene, my introduction to the past and Archy’s life. If I could film it from start to finish the suitcase would be delivered and we would find Archy’s great grandson (which according to my children who still believe my lies would be ME!). Having been given the mysterious case we would see me/the main character take it into the house and with curious hands open it and sift through the contents. From there the diary would be found and we would be set upon the path to our adventure.
Of course, I am no director, I don’t even have a camera worthy of filming so that will have to remain one of my crazy ideas or perhaps a storyboard for drawing tonight as I drink wine and raise a toast in memory.
It also reminds me how distorted you can make the world. How your imagination can change things and the false imagined adventures can appear all too real. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but there is also caution to be had not to forget the truth amongst the imagined.
Back to the photo shoot and trailer.
With the suitcase dressed and prepped I took to taking some pictures to use as wallpapers and media images (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the likes). Once that was done my creative head got rolling and I gave a guided tour of “discovering” the contents of the suitcase in a soft way.
It may be nothing. It may not even be my best piece of work as a trailer but as I have always said I act on a whim. When an idea takes hold I obsess over it and do what I can to get it done with the means that I have. For today that was a basic camera (not even an SLR as I can’t afford one of those). Clicking the red record button and doing my best to keep it steady.
I’m sure you can all see my intention, the fact that my dreams seriously outstrip my ability and capability but my actions are filled with best intentions.
The fact I could use the real life past of a friend made it all the more right for me to do.
The spooky thing though was when I found my daughter’s name on paperwork that related to my friend’s relative (possibly wife who I never had the chance to meet). Seeing her wartime Identity Card with my daughter’s name scribbled on the page sent a cold shiver down my spine. It’s funny how the past unknown can elicit a reaction and connect things decades apart.
And that is the essence of The Magdon story………..stories to connect generations, stories to elicit that sense of forgotten adventure and encourage a connection to the past from the future.
Hopefully, I have done his memory justice and the trailer creates the atmosphere and sense I want it to. You never know, perhaps one day I will be able to complete the project and get the pictures I see in my head out onto a silver (or LCD) screen.
Until then you can;t stop me creating. I excuse my madness in my desire to release my imagination and inspire my own children.